The New York Times > Business > Is Instructional Video Game an Oxymoron?: "Some Web sites, like that of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have had instructional games since the late 1990's. But according to Kurt D. Squire, an assistant professor of educational communication and technology at the University of Wisconsin, the use of such games is growing exponentially as more organizations see interactive games as a way to capture and hold the attention of people bombarded with numerous competing messages.
'In an era where you can't guarantee people are even watching television commercials, getting someone to interact for 15 or 20 minutes is just huge,' Mr. Squire said.
The games are a digital update of a didactic tradition. They are aimed at a generation whose grandparents, as schoolchildren, may have watched an animated turtle named Bert show them how to 'Duck and Cover,' in the 1951 civil defense film of that title. In the 1970's the parents of today's children were urged by Woodsy Owl to 'Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute,' in a public service TV spot.
About 81 percent of people age 12 to 17 who regularly use the Internet sometimes play games online, according to a recent survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. But because the commercial Web audience monitoring firms like Nielsen/NetRatings or comScore Media Metrix do not measure traffic on nonprofit sites, it is hard to gauge the audience of the instructional games, except anecdotally."